Book Rec: Everything's Eventual by Stephen King

Three things: 1) I can't believe I forgot to mention they picked the winners in the 2008 MicroHorror Story Contest. Congratulations to Gail Sosinsky Wickman, Lori Titus, and Oonah V Joslin for their excellent stories. My entry was induced by a marathon session of Faustus discussion/awful film adaptation watching courtesy of a professor who last week decided the funny way to cancel a 6:00 pm class the day before the school closed for Thanksgiving was to write on the board "Go Home You Turkeys." Which would be a good name for a short story, so something came from it. My entry: Physics. Maybe it would have been better for the contest if I actually wrote about the theme of monsters. Or did I? 2) Horror Board Book Club Thread is up for Salem's Lot. No, I haven't participated yet. I haven't even finished the book yet. I only have 250+ pages to go after reading it for a month. Ugh. If you have read it, please consider contributing. 3) You know the hardest thing about this blog? Keeping track of what I recommended already. I'm afraid to mention certain books and films because I lost track when the Mac crashed over the summer. There are some that I know for sure I've recommended, but they stay on my over desk shelf anyway because that's the A-Squad of books I really like. The B-Squad is in the closet, and the C-F squad are in storage throughout three houses. The G-Squad is posted on PaperBackSwap. And that's not even including texts purchased for academic purposes. Book Rec: Everything's Eventual by Stephen King Part of me really wanted to get away from horror this week. I do read other styles. Many other styles that together comprise most of my reading patterns. But when I'm struggling to think of a topic, I'd rather dig into the horror well and write something great rather than browse through the library stack and pick that one. The reason I want to discuss Everything's Eventual is bigger than that. I feel like a lot of people I discuss books with believe I hate Stephen King. Sure, I may have, in moments of passion, tossed out terms like "hack" or "literary prostitute," but I'm a fan of hyperbole and absurdity. I exaggerate to prove points when subtlety falls on deaf ears (or blind eyes, more aptly). I mean, Pajiba did post my scathing, very bitter, arguably bitchy review of Blaze as part of the Cannonball Read series. I was shocked by how much it looked like I hated Stephen King. But that's not true at all. I like Stephen King. I think he's talented. Some of his earlier works rank among my favorite novels in various categories. His non-fiction is always well edited with nice style and good pacing, and his short fiction rarely disappoints me. The King I don't like is the bloated, lumbering, slowed down to a crawl because he must capture every single detail of a scene instead of advancing the plot or characters King. I also don't care for the XTREME King, where all that detail is shifted to gore and violence. It's why I refuse to pick up Pet Semetary again. But this post is not about what I don't like. It's about my favorite collection of King stories and arguably one of the better short story collections of the last decade. Everything's Eventual has an underlying theme, from design to the actual content of the stories: chance. The table of contents opens up with his method for choosing the order of stories: 14 stories, 14 cards in a suit (13 in the suit plus a joker), 14 stories placed at random depending on what order the cards were drawn. Is it Stephen King's wit alone that made this decision? Or was he attempting to prove a certain point about the collection before you read page one? I think the truth lies somewhere in between. There are three stories I just do not like in the collection: "Autopsy Room Four" is a dragged out sex gag about a man mistakenly placed on the autopsy table after a freak accident; "The Little Sisters of Eluria" is connected to the Dark Tower series, moves like molasses, and made no sense to me since I'm genuinely afraid to try reading those books; "1408" starts out promising but sinks its teeth into the over the top gore/shock King I don't like. All three of these really turned me off because of personal preferences. I don't (as a rule) like reading about life saving erections, the Dark Tower series, or over the top schlock put in for shock value. All of that said, that leaves 11 stories I really enjoyed. "All That You Love Will Be Carried Away" is the true standout of the collection, combining dark humor with a very desperate situation that rings far truer than it should. A traveling salesman collects inscriptions from bathroom walls, including "All That You Love Will Be Carried Away." He's depressed. He's alone. And he will kill himself tonight unless he receives a sign of hope. It's stunning prose, edited down to the bare essentials without losing a strong sense of style and scenic concern. In fifteen pages, you know this man. That's an achievement. "That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is In French" is another great story in a completely different style. King is riffing on a particularly theory of Hell: that you are forced to relive the same event over and over without any possible way to change the outcome. It's a surrealist nightmare and exactly what I look for in a dream story. "Luckey Quarter" is perhaps the most heart wrenching story of all in the collection. A Carson City hotel employee relies on the tips she receives from turndown service to provide the medical necessities for her children. One man leaves her a luckey quarter and she is furious. She tosses it into a machine and wins. And then wins again. And then wins again. But isn't happy about it. Her obligations in life are so crushing she can't even take joy in catching a break for once. Luckey becomes a mantra in the story, constantly repeated as if it might break a curse or change her life. While writing this paragraph, I had to reread the story because I was hooked again after the first sentence. If you're a fan of short fiction at all, I recommend borrowing a copy of Everything's Eventual from your local library. King's writing style isn't for everyone, and someone that loves most of this collection might hate another. He does offer a wide variety here and you'll surely find one story you enjoy.

Labels: book rec